Places Journal Awarded Kresge Foundation Grant

Unframed: In October 2012, the artist JR covered a building at 1401 T Street, NW, Washington, D.C., with Ernest Withers’s image of the 1968 “I Am A Man” demonstration, part of the Memphis sanitation workers strike, led by Dr. Martin Luther King before his assassination in April 1968. [Image: JR]

We are pleased to report that Places Journal has been awarded a grant from the Kresge Foundation to support “The Inequality Chronicles,” a series of articles that will explore American cities in an era of economic stratification unprecedented in our modern history.

The series will not only delve into the ample evidence and effects of inequality but also probe the underlying causes, the political and economic structures that over decades have produced and perpetuated the growing divide that UC Berkeley political economist Robert Reich calls a grave threat to “our economy, our ideal of opportunity and our democracy.”

Inequality is hardly a new phenomenon in American life, but it has lately commanded new attention, with President Obama declaring it “the defining challenge of our time,” and with leading economists warning about concentrations of wealth and power not seen since the Gilded Age. And in the early 21st century rising inequality is intensified by another powerful national pattern: the increasing privatization of American politics and culture and the corresponding erosion of public responsibility, what Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam has described, in an article in The American Prospect, as “the strange disappearance of social capital and civic engagement in America.”

The series will comprise three in-depth analytical narratives, each focusing on a major U.S. city, as well as public lectures in the subject cities.